Treating Tooth Sensitivity

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That sharp pain you get after biting into ice cream or drinking your coffee could be telling you something about your oral health. Tooth pain when consuming hot or cold food and drinks is sometimes the sign of a cavity, but it’s also a symptom of sensitive teeth.

Also known as dental hypersensitivity, sensitive teeth can affect one or more teeth and might be a temporary or chronic problem. In many cases, you can treat it with a change in your oral hygiene routine. However, you might have to visit your dentist for a proper diagnosis and treatment for tooth sensitivity to completely correct the condition, depending on the “root” cause.

Your dentist will examine the problem areas and ask you about your diet, oral hygiene habits, and lifestyle to determine what might be causing your sensitive teeth. Here are some of the common questions we get about why people experience tooth sensitivity:

Does coffee cause tooth sensitivity?

Many people who have dental hypersensitivity might be drinking excessive amounts of coffee. That’s because coffee, like carbonated drinks, fruit drinks, and other beverages, contains acids that can damage the tooth enamel if consumed too frequently.

Enamel is the hardest substance in our bodies, even stronger than bones. However, prolonged exposure to acid will eventually wear away the layer of enamel, a condition called tooth erosion. Thin enamel can cause teeth to be fragile, chip easier, and be increasingly sensitive. Also, the layer of dentin underneath the enamel is very sensitive to acid and more easily eroded, leading to tooth decay and or tooth loss.

The critical thing to remember is that enamel usually cannot grow back. You can protect it and minimize tooth discomfort by reducing your intake of coffee and other acidic beverages, drinking these beverages in a shorter time frame, and drinking water after consuming them to balance the acid levels in your mouth.

Can alcohol make your teeth sensitive?

Like coffee and other acidic drinks, alcohol can also cause tooth pain. Some alcoholic beverages are citrusy, containing sugar and acids that can cause tooth damage and tooth sensitivity.

Alcoholic drinks can also cause dry mouth, which inhibits saliva from removing bacteria and plaque from your teeth. When saliva can’t do its job, there is an increased risk of further dental health problems such as gum disease and tooth decay.

Reducing or eliminating your alcohol consumption will help protect your teeth, minimize tooth sensitivity, and help optimize your overall health and well-being.

How to stop cold weather tooth pain

As the cold weather approaches, many of our thoughts turn to dealing with snow, ice, and dropping temperatures. We know how important it is to stay healthy by dressing warm, but did you know that cold weather can also cause tooth sensitivity?

When you open your mouth in cold temperatures, your teeth will contract to preserve the warmth it’s been acclimatized to by your body temperature. This contraction will result in tiny fissures in the enamel and expose the nerve fibres in the dentin, leading to tooth pain.

The best way to combat tooth pain from freezing temperatures is to breathe through your nose when outdoors whenever possible.

Does fluoride help with tooth sensitivity?

Saliva, which contains a combination of calcium and phosphate, helps keep our teeth healthy and protected. When fluoride is added to the mix, it combines with the natural minerals in our saliva to give you a more vigorous defense against acids and bacteria that can lead to tooth sensitivity.

Some of the more common sources of fluoride include treated drinking water, fluoridated toothpaste, and in foods such as potatoes, grapes, and shrimp. You can also get a fluoride treatment at your dentist’s office during your routine checkup.

Tooth sensitivity after dental filling

You may also experience sensitivity after getting a filling at your dentist’s office.

Dentists use dental fillings as a common way to treat cavities, which are small holes in your teeth. During the procedure, your dentist will fill the gap with an amalgam or composite substance. After the numbness has worn off, you may feel slight tooth discomfort or gum tenderness that can last for a couple of days up to a few weeks.

If you have any concerns about the level of  discomfort you’re feeling, or if the discomfort lingers for a prolonged period of time, contact your dentist so they can investigate the cause. You may need an additional treatment strategy, such as a filling adjustment or root canal, for your mouth to feel normal again.

How to stop sensitive teeth

You can try managing tooth pain on your own by:

If you have persistent sensitivity, your best bet is to visit your dentist for an examination. They will discuss the best treatment strategy options for sensitive teeth pain relief with you, such as:

Your dentist can also give you advice on maintaining proper oral health and nutritional strategies that will help you have healthy teeth and a beautiful, pain-free smile for life! 

Learn more about treating tooth sensitivity at Yonge Eglinton Dental in Toronto.

Treating tooth sensitivity is all part of having a healthy smile.  Come see us at Yonge Eglinton Dental, where we focus on protecting your oral health as well as your overall well-being. Make an appointment today by calling our office at 416-932-2222 or booking online. We look forward to seeing you!

Are you concerned about visiting the dentist? Read about how we protect the health and safety of our patients and staff so your family can seek proper dental care with peace of mind.